Furthermore, it takes little time, almost no effort and is completely free. Now you’re listening, huh?
The thing that we don’t always realize is that we have some degree (a great degree if you ask me) of choice when it comes to what we tell ourselves inside our own minds. The thoughts that we have about a situation: these are the thoughts that preempt feelings. So when you’re feeling stressed this means you have had stressful thoughts – and believed them. Stress, in fact, comes from our thoughts about a situation. Not from the situation itself.
The science of self talk has been explored and analyzed and here’s the short version: what you say to yourself in your head matters. If you are convincing yourself there’s a problem, there will be. If you are telling yourself you’re being mistreated – that will be your experience. Not because you have magic powers (although, surely, you do); but because we contribute invite and, heck, even create each of the situations we find ourselves in.
I want to take self talk one step further and apply it in a really broken down and practical manner. I don’t know what’s going on in your head, but I can tell you what’s going on in mine: it’s quite the party (sans the kegs). Or maybe it’s more like a particularly intense debate club. I don’t mean to freak you out but when I really take a look at my mind I find a lot of different voices: judging, analyzing, criticizing, dramatizing, victimizing, exasperating… generally a bunch of unhelpful whiners who keep me from being my truest and shiniest self.
So, I’ve come to think of this gang fondly as my old crew – I wouldn’t ever want to hurt their feelings or kick them out of my life completely, and I wish them well, but…well… I’ve moved on. So when our paths cross I smile, knowingly, and greet them on their way, thinking: “Hello old thought pattern, it’s nostalgic to see you”.
When stressing comes your way: look inside your mind and ask yourself, which voices are you listening to? And are they perhaps judgy fretters and snooty fear mongers who don’t have your best interests at heart?
And then ask yourself: which voice would give you strength? Empathy? Kindness and compassion?
Which “personas” have you developed or will you develop to help you with stress?